Our Mission and Vision
Radical Evolution is a multiethnic producing collective committed to creating artistic events that seek to understand the complexities of the mixed-identity existence in the 21st Century.
We believe that visibility and representation for the fastest growing demographic in our nation is crucial to live performance. Our ensemble-based approach to creating aesthetically and formally rigorous events with people from a variety of backgrounds works to break down barriers between both cultures and specializations. We incorporate people from a variety of backgrounds into our creative process, with a focus on people of color, to seed the field of experimental and collaboratively created theatre with practitioners that celebrate the intersectionality of perspectives and aesthetics of the city around us. Through this approach, we work to assert a vision for cultural and social equity in our field, city, and nation.
Radical Evolution was founded in 2011 by Beto O’Byrne and Meropi Peponides, theatre makers who create cross-disciplinary performance works. We contribute to the conversation in NYC and beyond with works that seek to understand the complexities of modern, multiethnic, mixed-identity existence.
In September 2015, we produced our first original, world premiere production - The Golden Drum Year: a story in poetry and prose. This was a significant milestone as the largest project in our history, involving more than 20 artists and production staff, over half of whom are artists of color from a plethora of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The production’s three week run, hosted by The Performance Project @ University Settlement, received universal critical acclaim and overwhelmingly positive feedback from audiences.
In past seasons, we have produced multiple workshops of The Golden Drum Year: a story in poetry and prose; begun development of The San Patricios Project, a new play with music, in partnership with El Teatro Campesino; and workshopped and created a production-ready script, Loving and Loving, based on the Loving v. Virginia supreme court case, to have a world premiere in June 2017.
We have also produced additional programming with our frequent collaborators, The Movement Theatre Company. In 2013, we associate produced the world premiere of Look Upon Our Loneliness by Harrison David Rivers at Harlem School of the Arts, and for several years have partnered on Go Green - a series focused on sustainable living practices in urban environments. Most recently, in August 2015, we co-produced Go Green: Pop Up!, a festival of multidisciplinary performance at the Urban Garden Center in Harlem.
As a part of our commitment to promoting diverse and challenging theatrical voices and supporting our peer community of makers, we have produced numerous readings including the book launch of Whiting Award winning playwright Virginia Grise’s The Panza Monologues at La Casa Azul bookstore; a reading of The Recession Club by Christina Quintana at Hullaballo Bookstore in Brooklyn, and several readings as part of the Dinner Reading Series at the home of Radical Evolution’s co-founders.
COMMITMENT TO MULTIETHNICITY
We live in a complex and integrated world where cultures, races, creeds, religions, genders, and classes constantly evolve, revolve, clash and interact. We interrogate these interactions through our art and performance with an anti-racist analysis and a commitment to lifelong learning. Through our projects, we examine the intersections of our identities, celebrate difference and multiplicity, andaccept our inherent contradictions.
In addition to the subject matter of or work, we accomplish our mission by incorporating people from a variety of backgrounds into our ensemble, with a focus on people of color, seeding the field of experimental and collaboratively created theatre with practitioners that reflect our city and world.
It is our hope that these philosophies and working aesthetics contribute to our local, national, and global community with works that attempt to understand the complexities of mixed-identity politics and our modern, multiethnic existence.
COMMITMENT TO DIVERSE AUDIENCES
A core value of Radical Evolution is that we provide artistic works of the highest quality to as diverse a core audience as possible, and are constantly looking to find ways to bring as many members of the community to see our work as possible.
Research has shown that even at our anticipated consistently lower than average ticket price, cost is still a major barrier to attending arts performances. Another major barrier is cultural – many New Yorker’s we have spoken with do not know how to find out about theatre that is happening (aside from Broadway productions), how to determine which are quality productions, and where the productions are taking place. Added to this are time constraints of working people with families.
For each project, we work to develop relationships with specific organizations whose goals and interests relate directly or indirectly to the subject matter of the piece, each of whom will assemble a group to attend our productions, with the aim of beginning a long-term conversation through our body of work. Prior to their visit to the theatre, we offer groups the option to meet Radical Evolution artists, ask questions and share information about the organization with which they are affiliated.
If you are interested in connecting your organization with Radical Evolution, please contact Meropi Peponides at Meropi@radicalevolution.org.
Beto O’Byrne (co-founder) hails from East Texas and is the co-founder of Radical Evolution. As a theatre artist, his plays have been produced and supported throughout the U.S. He is the former Artistic Director of the Austin Latino Theater Alliance and is an alumnus of INTAR’s Maria Irene Fornes HPRL, the Texas Black and Latino Playwriting Festival, Lincoln Center Theater’s Director’s Lab, and was twice the recipient of residences at the Tofte Lake Arts Center in Ely, MN. www.betoobyrne.org
Meropi Peponides (co-founder) is an Artistic Producer, dramaturg, writer and co-founder of Radical Evolution. She has been collaboratively creating and producing theatre for the past 9 years with a focus on devised ensemble work, new plays, site-specific work and community-based performance. She is also the Producer at Soho Rep. in New York, where she produces the mainstage season. She serves on the Advisory Committee for The Performance Project @ University Settlement. She has been awarded a Time Warner Fellowship with the Women’s Project Lab, and a Creative Producing Fellowship with The Foundry Theatre. Other organizations with which she has collaborated include The Movement Theatre Company, The Public Theater, 24th Street Theatre and Watts Village Theatre Company. BA, UCLA. MFA, Columbia University (Dean's fellow).
Andrew Belcher (board chair) is an educator, social worker, and theater maker. He works in school-based mental health and is the Director of The 100 Schools Project and College Connects at The Jewish Board. He is also the founder of MassBliss, a company that promotes social justice in schools through self-care and social emotional learning. As a performer, writer, and producer Andrew has been creating collaborative ensemble work in NYC for more than 10 years. Andrew is proud to be the founding board chair of Radical Evolution and is dedicated to building a sustainable, thriving company.
Joey Reyes (line producer) is a queer, Latinx, Two Spirit producer, writer, and administrator born and raised in Southern California, and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Since 2015, Joey has worked in administrative and artistic capacities with Cornerstone Theater Company, American Conservatory Theater, Faultline Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, The Public Theater, Chautauqua Theater Company, and MCC Theater–and now line producer for Radical Evolution. They are currently the Producing Assistant for The Sol Project, a national theater initiative that works in partnership with leading theater companies to amplify the voices of Latinx playwrights and build artistic homes for artists of color in New York City and beyond. Memberships include the First Nations Theater Guild, 2018 artEquity cohort, and the Arts Administrators of Color Network. Their written work is featured in the Los Angeles-based, monthly zine Young Ignorantes. B.A. in Theater Arts and Business Administration minor from Azusa Pacific University and Oxford University.
Caitlin Cisco (communications strategist) is a New York City-based performer committed to being a part of diversity in storytelling. Originally from Southern California and Singapore, Caitlin’s favorite credits include Loving and Loving at Adler Studio Theatre, The White Snake at Baltimore Center Stage, and Nell Gwynn at the Folger Theatre. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance at the University of Michigan. www.caitlincisco.com